Re: Perform vs. do

Subject: Re: Perform vs. do
From: Tony Chung <tonyc -at- tonychung -dot- ca>
To: Barbara Philbrick <caslon -at- windstream -dot- net>
Date: Fri, 11 Oct 2013 09:18:44 -0700

Hi Barbara,

Even though "do" is a simpler word, it sounds wrong in English (in those
contexts). In the same way, "perform" which sounds right, is longer. And if
you deem it unnecessary, then maybe it is.

In your examples:

To set the language, do the following steps:
> vs.
> To set the language, perform the following steps:
>
> To perform a one-time autozero update, send the command:
> vs.
> To do a one-time autozero update, send the command:
>

The benefit of stem sentences has been debated at length, so I won't bother
going into that here.

You could use simpler stems:

To set the language:
1. From the menu, select foo > configuration > language.
2 etc...

For one-time autozero update:
1. Choose setup > one-time autozero update....

However, I would also argue that "one-time autozero update" is jargon
specific to your application. It might be better to discern the universally
understood concept and use that as the stem sentence.

To update the system manually:
1. Choose setup > one-time autozero update....


You could also avoid stems completely and run the instructions directly
beneath headings (*text* would be your heading font):

*Setting system language*
1. From the menu, select foo > configuration > language.
2 etc...

*Updating the system*
1. Choose setup > one-time autozero update....


As for your other examples, plain language suggests breaking complex
sentences into shorter phrases. However your tasks are fairly complex, so
you're pretty much stuck regardless of whether you choose to use perform,
do, or nothing at all:

...such as a device handler that is used to perform binning operations.
> vs.
> ...such as a device handler that is used to do binning operations.
>

...such as a device handler for scheduled binning operations. (I'm not sure
of your context for "binning", this construct depends a lot on what comes
before the dots.)

This example uses the Simple Loop trigger model template to do a capacitor
> test.
> vs.
> This example uses the Simple Loop trigger model template to perform a
> capacitor test.
>

This capacitor test example uses the Simple Loop trigger model template.


Of course, these are only examples of how I would strip that cat to the
flesh (try translating THAT!) I'm sure under deadline pressure as we all
are, I'd standardize on "perform" and not be so creative.

Cheers,
-Tony


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References:
Re: Agile Environment Opinions Wanted: From: Jen
Perform vs. do: From: Barbara Philbrick
RE: Perform vs. do: From: Dan Goldstein
Re: Perform vs. do: From: Robert Lauriston

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